Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    February 4, 2012 9:30am-10:00am EST

9:30 am
which still governs our life today. this is one of a series of american artifacts programs featuring james madison's month peel yar. for schedule information and to view "american history tv" programs online, visit our website, c-span.org/history. henry luce was the founder of time incorporated and the publisher of "time," "fortune," "life" and "sports illustrated." next a discussion of publishing american in the 20th century with a panel that scrutinizes how the publishing industry has changed since the 1920s. they also examine the influence the internet has had on the publishing industry. the american historical association hosted this two-hour discussion.
9:31 am
good morning. thanks for coming. my name is marty kaplan, i'm only the faculty of the adam burg school for communication and journalism at the university of southern california. i'm also the founding director of something called the norman lear center whose mission is to study and the shape the impact of entertainment and media on society. if you're interested in the hear center's work, hearcenter.org is the conclusion of my branding message. today is the second of a series of four events here at aha. it's the launch of a partnership whose members are the national
9:32 am
history center of the aha and i want to thank roger lewis and jim grossman for being part of initiating this partnership. the leaar center and also at usc the center for communication, leadership and policy which is headed up by my colleague jeffrey cowan. that partnership has a name. it's called historians, journalists and the challenges of getting it right. it starts with the premise that both those professions, historians and journalists are in the business of finding and assessing evidence, of analyzing events and of narrating events. they're both story tellers, both we think could enhance their work by learning from each other, by establishing networks that connect them, by sharing
9:33 am
expertise and by sharing practical knowledge about media and methods. so we begin that collaboration here and it's also my privilege as part of that to ask you to turn off your cell phones. c-span is with us. we're glad of that. the amplification here is our own voices, not these microphones. so later on when there's time for questions from the room, please speak into the mic, but know that for the people here, your voice is not amplified. so in order to explore what these professions have in common and where they differ, to begin to understand what each of those professions means by getting it right, to examine the impact of journalism on history and history on journalism, we have
9:34 am
these four case studies here at aha. and the first one yesterday was about american biography and the cold war, biography of lillian helmand that alex kessler harris of columbia spoke about. later today there will be a session about interpreting the arab spring with juan cole of michigan, and then on american intervention with jeremy surry at ut austin. this morning our topic is publishing and the american century. our format is a little unusual for this annual conference. we will have a presenter, but then instead of cereal xhnts, we will have a more free willing informal conversation among everyone who is here. i'll introduce the members of the panel later on. right now i'd like to introduce
9:35 am
our presenter. allan brinkley is the allan nef vince professor of american history at columbia. among his works are "voices of protest," huey long, father cobb lynn and the great depression which won the national book award for history. the "unfinished nation," "the end of reform" are two other of his works. the book we're focusing on today and though he didn't ask me to, i'm happy to hold up a hard-bound copy which is still available is the publisher "henry luce and his american century." please join me in welcomiing aln brinkley. >> thank you, marty.
9:36 am
the title of this session, historians, journalists and the challenges of getting it right is very apt for a talk about henry luce because getting it right was not always something that henry luce did. first of all, i want to thank roger for organizing this session. i'm very grateful for all these men joining this conversation. i'm asked to speak about henry luce. we shouldn't think about this as just a conversation about luce though i do think he's a useful model for learning how journalism can shape history and vice very see. henry lue vce was one of the most powerful and influential journalists of the mid 20th
9:37 am
century, the co-founder of "time" magazine in 1923, the creator of fortune magazine in 1930, life magazine in 1936 and quite in congruently "sports illustrated" in 1954. incongruent because he knew so little about sports that he had to ask some of his employees to take him to yankee stadium to explain baseball to him. as a publisher and editor, he sought throughout his life to bring the nation and much of the world into an age of consensual progress on the western model. he never succeeded in this mission but never abandoned the
9:38 am
effort. henry luce was the son of a presbyterian missionary in ch a china. he lived in hunan for the first missionary years of his life. mission life can be difficult and dangerous. they had to flee to korea one night to explain it. for the most part missionary families experienced a life of community and commitment. henry winters luce, his father, was a yale graduate drawn into the student volunteer movement which drew many educated men to the missionary life. hery winters luce sought to bring to it china. the senior henry luce was committed to bringing modern western education and knowledge to the chinese people. in that he was somewhat more successful. the younger harry luce became in many ways a missionary, too. a revolutionary figure who believed he could shape the world through journalism just as
9:39 am
his father believed he could shape the world through faith. he was an unlikely revolutionary many many ways, he attended hoch kiss, became a skull and bones man at yale and eventually became one of the wealthiest men in america. he divorced his loyal and in his view dull first wife and married one of the most famous, ambitious and controversial women of the 20th century, claire booth luce. their marriage was a romantic disaster but survived in part because of the fame it helped create for both of them. they would, he once wrote to claire, that they would be the luces magnificent which seemed to compensate for the coldness and frequent apartness of their
9:40 am
marriage. he disliked most of the new deal and loathed franklin roosevelt. he said after franklin roosevelt's death it is my duty to go on hating him. his famous 1941 essay in "life," "the american century" was a call to reshape the world on the american model. he wrote "we are the inheriters of all the great principles of western civilization. above all justice, the love of truth, the ideal of charity. it now becomes our time to be the powerhouse from which the ideals spread throughout the world and do the mysterious work of lifting the life of mankind from the level of the beast to what the sulness called a little lower than the angels". luce had an almost proprietary view of china, the land of his birth and spent much of his
9:41 am
adult life supporting and idolizing shanghai shek, denying the incompetence of the regime and insisting that the united states commit itself to defeating the japanese and then the communists in china. one of his most famous journalists, theodore h. white, then a young "time" correspondent in china and for a time a friend and admirer of luce, he was fired when he began to express his disaffection form sheng. partly because of his group over the fall of china, he went on to be a passionate champion of the least successful wars. if he had his way, the united states would have used both the korean war and the vietnam war as conflicts that would help unleash shanghai shek and join him in over throwing the communist regime in china.
9:42 am
he believed in that until his death. luce was a difficult man with few friends, an unhappy marriage and kind of shyness linked with arrogance that left him mostly alone. alone but certainly not invisible. his hand was evident in almost every aspect of time incorporated's life and culture. the company attracted talented young men from the ivy league, almost never women. when who inspired to be novelists, poets or playwrites but wrote for "time" because they needed a salary. no one paid better than luce. the regimented world of time, incorporated was stifling to many writers, many left over time to do more creative and independent work. others stayed on for decades often hating the work but unwilling to give up the lucrative salaries and lavish expense accounts. what made luce a revolutionary
9:43 am
figure i think in american life was not his politics or his religion even his missionary zelal, it was his success in creating a new era of communication that is had an enormous impact on the culture of the 20th century. at the precocious age of 24, luce and his brilliant classmate, friend, partner and rival, britton had den, created the first news magazine, a new word that they invented themselves. "time" itself was also something new, a concise summary of the "news of the world" published weekly and marketed throughout the united states and later around the world. the magazine was not to everyone's taste with its deliberately idiosyncratic language and sometimes arch opinions, but for the hundreds of thousand dollars, time was the first publics that made the
9:44 am
"news of the world" available to people in all parts of the nation. "time" was designed to be a kind of glue, providing professional and other middle class people with a common, liable and concise guide to information that was now more important to them than ever before. in sinclair lewis's 1922 novel "back bot" just one year before the emerges of "time" magazine, the title character spoke triumphantly of what he called the same standardization of stores, offices, streets, hotels and newspapers throughout the united states which illustrated, he said, how strong and enduring a type is ours. to sinclair lewis, this standardization was a mark of society's arid consumerism. but to luce and most middle class americans these changes represented progress. the creation of a market for a national news magazine that
9:45 am
would bring the "news of the world" every week in a concise way to help busy people inform themselves quickly. had den died prematurely of a strep infection in 1929 a few days after his 31st birthday. luce moved forward with his own vision without looking back. in 1930, the early months of the great depression, he launched the first truly serious business magazine in america, "fortune," a dazzlingly beautiful monthly designed to examine business and capitalism in a way that would provide knowledge about the workings of the economy which he believed that all americans, not just businessmen, should understand. he tired talented writers, some of whom went on to great literary careers, who examined and explained areas of business that were largely new to them and their readers. he recruited talented photographers, among them
9:46 am
margaret burke white and recruited talented writers with little experience in business. among these writers for "fortune" were james age gee, dwight mcdonald, archibald macleish and ralph ingersoll. for a time fortune was a path breaking magazine in a field that had been largely celeb tory. six years later luce published the first issue of manufacture life," perhaps the most popular magazine ever published in america. it was not the first picture magazine in the new age of photography, but it was by far the most creative and successful, offering a visual image of its time and revealing, as luce wrote in his famous perspective "the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud, strange things, machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon, things hidden behind walls and
9:47 am
within rooms, things dangerous to come to." it, too, "life" became a magnet for many, perhaps most of the leading photographers of its time, although some of the best of them, like the writers, jumped ship after a few years to escape what they considered the sometimes stifling discipline that shadows all of the luce magazines. luce launched other invasions as well, the market of "time," the first news reels to offer documentary features, not just headlines and beauty pageants. it won a special academy award for its creativity through the help of his powerful friend david selz nick. there was also a weekly national -- fro time, and in 1954 he launched "sports illustrated." like fortune, it relied not only on good photographers but also on good writers, among them william faulkner, a.j. leeb
9:48 am
ling, wallace stegner, bud shul berg and john stein beck. luce insisted it should elevate the worlds of sports from being just a game to being a plett that for for the human condition. the timing publications were extraordinarily expensive to publish and distribute. luce resisted ek con mizing and believed spending more money to create better quality was the best strategy for success. they moved ahead in what they knew was a dangerously expensive gamble on the magazines, acting one of them said in analities fear of complete and serene confidence to grasp the chance of a lifetime. from the mid '30s to the late '50s, time incorporated was one of the largest news organizations in the world with bureaus on every continent and
9:49 am
reporters active in most nations. the company claimed to reach over 20 million people every week, and many more during world war ii which the time, inc., magazine reported at least as intensity as any other organization. time, inc.'s great success was partly a result of shrewd management and lavish but careful budgeting, but also a result of luce himself who looked into the few turp and had seen an increasingly integrated nation bound together by railroads, highways, radio, movies and the rise of a national corporate culture. as a result, he believed americans would need a vast amount of information, more than ever and an efficient way of accessing it. luce embraced that future and created vehicles that served the needs of his rapidly changing time. by the time of luce's retirement
9:50 am
in 1964, three years before his death, his empire was beginning to show its age. time thriving, but it was rivaled by television and newer magazines that competed effectively with him. his colleagues prodded him to move into television and branch out into other area, abobut luc resisted diversification and tried instead to protect what he had already created. life ceased to be profitable in the late 1950s and finally ceased publication in 1972. time, fortune and sports illustrated have survived and have reinvented themselves repeatedly as the publishing world as changed, but all of them have deteriorated over time. luce was a man in search of
9:51 am
vehicles of change. at least in the hay day of his time. and the magazines he created were break-throughs in the history journalism. "time" the first and most successful news magazine, fortune reinvented the business journal, "life" turned photographs into it a powerful tool of journalism. he had no fear of the new and he welcomed it through mostn art w but eventually began to collect. modern technology. he bought an architecture magazine in the 1930s because he saw in a chronicle of modernism and he commissioned stone on build a house for him he was always attracted to the latest business leaders and considered himself one of them. for all his political
9:52 am
conservative on many issue, he was a man in search of the future. for decades, luce had worked to portray and shape america as a united common culture. despite differences in class or race or region, americans he believed shared a basic set of values that transcended diversity. at one point in the 1950s, he brightly entitled an article in life, nobody is mad at nobody. luce's optimism represented his admiration for eisenhower and what he considered his impact on the nation, but his optimism went beyond his confidence in the president. in the 1950s, he was at the height of his belief that there was a broadly shared vision of what american meant and that his publications could help cement that vision of the nation.
9:53 am
there was, of course, never a universally shared vision of america no matter how luce liked to think otherwise. but he believed it until the end of his life. he linked long enough through the '60s to see the beginning of the great fragmentation and polarization that should have destroyed his own assumptions about the future of the united states. but he never lost his confidence as was clear in an unfinished memoir that he was writing in 1967 last year the his life. and he wrote, the united states was dedicated to a proposition, that was something unique in the history of nations. what is necessary to understand here is that proposition contains, indeed is founded on, ruths or high both cease which unqualifiedly universal.
9:54 am
s of or is the american task in creating a new form of world order. these were the ideas that ran throughout his life and in his last days, he was struggling with them still. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, alan. and it's -- the work is not only brilliant piece of scholarship, it is an amazing story and told in a riveting way. for those of who you have not put down the amount to purchase it, i recommend it. alan invited us to use the story of luce and his american century as a spring board, not just as the exclusive focus of our conversation. and that's what we're going to do.
9:55 am
i'd like to introduce the other members of the conversation and once i've introduced all of them, let's welcome them. on my extreme left, although perhaps not really, is michael kazen, a professor of history at georgetown and he's also the coed it tore of dissent. the focus of his work is american politics andtore of di. the focus of his work is american politics and social movements. among his works are the populist persuasion, an american history. a godly hero, the life of william jennings bryant, an american divided, and his newest book, american dreamers, how the left changed a nation. next to him is jackson lears, professor of history at rut
9:56 am
gefgefr gers, u.s. culture ral and intellectual history has had his focus. among his works, no place of grace and the transformation of american culture 1880 to 1920. that book was released in 1981. it was reissued which is something of a triumph in 1994 and the japanese translation just came out last year. also tables of abundance, something for nothing, luck in america, and his latest, rebirth of a nation, the making of modern america 1877 to 1920. and then rick pearlstein. he's a journalist and historian. his books include before the storm, barry goldwater and the unmaking of the american
9:57 am
consensus, nixon land, the rise of a president and fracturing of america, which became a "new york times" best seller. and to complete the try up fer aunt of goldwater and nixon, he's now at work about a book about ronald reagan called the invisible bridge. and his books have received glowing reviews from people both on the left and on the right, which is quite unusual especially in third rail material like his. he's been chief political correspondent for the village voice. and his essays and articles and reviews have appeared in places like the new republic slate, the "new york times," "washington post" and many others. rick in some ways is our journalist slash historian on the panel, although everyone
9:58 am
else here has also written in what we might call journalistic venues and so there's no particular could you be bihole that anyone is in. so i would ask you please to join me in welcoming the panel. [ applause ] so i'd like to start by asking the question, and i'll ask it many different ways, of what is journalism? we've heard a version of what henry luce thought journalism should be. alan described it as glue or cement and there's certainly an aspect of advocacy involved given what it was that luce thought that common culture was. that he wanted to be sure that everyone you said stood apd und
9:59 am
described to. so what did journalists do, who are journalists and what does gets it right mean for a journalist? that's the place where i'd like and 'll see where we go. and so let me just start by asking each of you perhaps to talk about that. and michael, why don't you take a whack at it. >> like ask wling what is reali. if i could, let me get at it a little different way. i'm not sure i can rise to the heights of that question. i'm thinking a lot about how journalism and history is different. historians argue about this all the time. we know of course that many perhaps most of the most popular works of history are written by journalists. taylor branch and people like that.

165 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on